New alien flick successfully ‘Battles’ for box office victory

By Kate MacDonald

MCT

In “Battle: Los Angeles,” the latest flick by director Jonathan Liebesman, Marine Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz is about to retire to a life of leisure, but he’s soon deployed to a grim and dangerous battle zone. The scene of this war torn destruction is downtown Los Angeles.

A storm of meteors is hurtling towards Earth, but is expected to hit just off the coast of many major cities around the world. People don’t find this to be a coincidence, and they soon realize that they’re not meteors, but strategically coordinated extraterrestrial attacks. When the aliens begin exterminating the population, it’s up to the armed forces to save the world, starting with L.A.

Aaron Eckhart, a veteran of action movies like “The Dark Knight” and “The Core,” stars as the serious Nantz, playing him as a damaged sergeant with a stiff upper lip. Though playing the lead, his character is not the heart of the film.

Nantz, like the other characters, was simply not developed as fully as he could have been. While the plot does touch on the background of the various players, more of the plot is focused on the action sequences and scary scenes.

“Battle: Los Angeles” is made up of an easily recognizable cast, from R&B singer Ne-Yo as Corporal Kevin Harris, Michelle Rodriguez as Air Force Tech Sergeant Elena Santos and Bridget Moynahan as Michele, a veterinarian. A major selling point of the film is the fact that there is not one weak link in the movie. Again, though characters may not have been developed to their fullest, each part was performed well.

The same could be said about the cinematography. The movie employs the use of a shaky camera. While this can be confusing, even dizzying at times, it definitely adds to the thrill of “Battle: Los Angeles.” The cinematography makes it seem like the movie is actually a documentary filmed through a camcorder, and the viewer is right in the thick of the battle. During action sequences, the shot bounces around and it isn’t always clear what’s going on. But that only adds to the excitement.

The soundtrack was nothing notable. It blended into the background easily and consisted of the usual strings and drums combination that characterize all war movies.

Though Liebesman’s (known for “Darkness Falls” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning”) plot and characters aren’t robust, “Battle: Los Angeles” makes up for it with very impressive battle sequences and special effects. This comes as no surprise, with a budget estimated at upwards of $70 million. Viewers will certainly be impressed with the war-like images of the familiar big city. The CGI and intense gunfights make the film seem much more like a war movie than a sci-fi alien movie.

There is more action than dialogue in the film, and the majority of the lines are somewhat predictable, but it doesn’t detract from the movie. “Battle: Los Angeles” could have easily been a dud. But the race to save the west coast quickly turned into a dangerous and exciting cat and mouse game. The special effects and fight scenes make the film worth the price of the ticket.

The one special effect that doesn’t stack up against the likes of other classic alien movies is the way the aliens themselves look. They don’t resemble anything recognizable from other alien movies. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can be rather confusing when the audience has to take time to figure out what they’re looking at.

“Battle: Los Angeles” is a story of human perseverance shown through forceful action scenes. It’s the type of film that would appeal to just about any audience. Between the intense war aspects, the romantic undertones and the foreboding scenarios, there’s something for everyone.

As with anything, there are smaller pitfalls. The soundtrack is almost non-existent, the characters’ personalities could’ve used some more description and the aliens look odd. That said, the numerous shining parts of “Battle: Los Angeles” more than made up for it.

While this new movie isn’t of the caliber of “Independence Day” or even “District 9,” it’s not entirely a write-off. Audience members won’t be disappointed in “Battle: Los Angeles.”

Kate MacDonald can be reached at [email protected].